In & around SEC basketball

By Cole FrederickBy Cole Frederick

After Florida was dominated 79-59 by Michigan in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament, the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball season officially came to a close.

Overall, it was a disappointing year for the league. Only three teams made the NCAA tournament, and only one advanced past the first weekend. Defending national champion Kentucky failed to reach the NCAA tournament. Coach John Calipari’s team lost to Robert Morris in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament.

Unfortunately, the list of underachieving teams in the SEC is large.

Although Missouri made the NCAA Tournament, the Tigers were bounced in their opening game for the second consecutive year under head coach Frank Haith. Missouri had a veteran team that failed to Sreach its potential.

A year after reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time under head coach Anthony Grant, Alabama regressed this past season. The Crimson Tide returned nearly every key player from 2011-12, but they missed the Big Dance.

Arkansas also had high expectations, but Mike Anderson’s team struggled to win away from home as the Razorbacks also failed to make the NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee, LSU, Georgia and Texas A&M did not have bad seasons, but each of those teams must improve next year or their coaches will find themselves on the hot seat.

South Carolina and Mississippi State struggled tremendously, but both teams were in the first seasons of new head coaches. South Carolina’s Frank Martin and Mississippi State’s Rick Ray each get a pass for this season, but serious improvement will be necessary for next year.

Auburn, however, was the biggest disappointment in the conference. Tony Barbee’s third year with the Tigers was a disaster in every area, especially in the loss column and player development. The lone bright spot for Auburn this season was defeating Alabama, but that accomplishment did not make up for a SEC-record 23 losses. Barbee somehow retained his job for a fourth season on the Plains. If the Tigers do not make serious improvements next season, it could be Barbee’s last in Auburn.

Not every SEC team underachieved. Ole Miss unexpectedly won the SEC Tournament championship, and the Rebels made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in over a decade. Led by sharpshooter Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss nearly made the Sweet 16. Head coach Andy Kennedy finally reached the NCAA Tournament after several NIT appearances, likely saving his job in the process.

A year after winning the SEC Tournament championship, Vanderbilt lost nearly every player to the NBA draft or graduation. The Commodores were inconsistent early in the year, but no team in the league improved more over the course of the season than Kevin Stallings’ squad. Vanderbilt reached the semifinals of the SEC Tournament before losing to Ole Miss, the eventual champion.

2012-13 All-SEC Teams
First Team

Guard: Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss (Jr.); Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia (So.); Phil Pressey, Missouri (Jr.); Jordan McRae, Tennessee (Jr.).

Forward: Erik Murphy, Florida (Sr.); Murphy Holloway, Ole Miss (Sr.); Johnny O’Bryant, LSU (So.).

Center: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky (Fr.)

Second Team

Guard: Kenny Boynton, Florida (Sr.); Elston Turner, Texas A&M (Sr.); Trevor Releford, Alabama (Jr.); Mike Rosario, Florida (Sr.); BJ Young, Arkansas (So.).

Forward: Laurence Bowers, Missouri (Sr.); Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee (So.).

Center: Patric Young, Florida (Jr.).

All-Freshman Team

Guard: Archie Goodwin, Kentucky; Michael Frazier III, Florida.

Forward: Michael Carrera, South Carolina; Alex Poythress, Kentucky.

Center: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky.

Defensive MVP
Nerlens Noel, Kentucky (Fr.)

Freshman of the Year
Nerlens Noel, Kentucky

Sixth Man
Kyle Wiltjer, Kentucky (So.)

Coach of the Year
Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss

Player of the Year
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia (So.).


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